GASP! Local Landscapers Near Me are Getting Worse? An Industry Insight, and possible improvements.

Introduction

Look. I haven’t been a business owner for long, but after just a couple years I see a thing or two. A couple of things I notice, like shoddy jobs from local companies to people completely going out of business, I will talk about, but one of the things that really bugs me is the lack of professional companies. In the day and age of Youtube, with millionaire landscapers like Mike Andes posting DAILY tips on how to build a successful and professional company, you would think it would be easy. But It seems that business owners are unconcerned, and would rather set their roots in the stream instead of push forward towards the lake (horrible analogy, i know). What can you do to find a landscaper that is ACTUALLY good near you? Or do you want to become that landscaper that everyone knows and wants service from? 

Lets just drive deeper into it:

The Landscaping Industry in Numbers

We have to first talk about the landscape industry as a whole. The landscaping industry in the U.S. is substantial. As of 2023, the market size of landscaping services totaled approximately $176 billion. The industry employs more than 1.2 million people and represents 633,481 landscaping service businesses.

That’s quite a staggering number.. 176 billion. I could do a lot with that kind of money, maybe even retire! 

What does that number tell us, though? My thoughts:

1: There is plenty of work to go around. If you are not getting jobs/leads, your problem is not competition, its marketing. If you went to your local city, and did a poll of how many knew where the local McDonalds was, how many would know? 80% of people? What about something less popular, like a library? Maybe 70%? How many would recognise even your NAME!? If even 30%, great! But let’s be realistic here, they probably don’t know who you are. That’s bad for both the landscaper and the potential client. Nobody trusts a nobody.

2. People are willing to spend money for high quality landscaping. For example, Trugreen did over 1 billion in revenue as a nation wide fertilization company. Trugreen have 314 locations plus 35 franchise locations, and they boast that they serve over 2.3 million customers nationwide.  Doing the math on that, that is over 2.8 million dollars in revenue per location. Sounds crazy, but that’s actually only about $500 spent per customer at around 6500 customers a year. 

3. Too many lazy people join the industry. They don’t want to go the extra mile, they don’t want to do basic research on how to grow(all it takes is watching some youtube, that’s how easy it is), they don’t try to reflect on what’s actually going on in their business. If you are not improving even little by little, that’s on you.

4. You do not need to offer every service under the sun to make big money for yourself. A lot of big companies seem to offer some sort of low hanging fruit (Trugreen offers a low first time cost), to rake in customers for the premium products. Get customers in, then make money, simple as.

One last number I want to touch on is this stat I found: When it comes to customer satisfaction, landscapers have an average rating of 4.45 stars on Google. To the casual observer, This indicates a generally positive perception of their services. I personally love when a business has over 4.3 stars. Kinda the magic area. However, some customers have noticed a decline in the quality of services provided by local landscapers. And a bigger issue, the study shows that the average company has only 21 reviews!!!! To put that into my own personal perspective, we did 50 5 star reviews in our first year or so in business without really trying or asking for reviews. Now that we have honed in on quality service at Alvarez Brothers Landscaping, we have gained 20 in less than 3 weeks of work. 

My thoughts when I see only 21 reviews and a 4.45 average? Lack of trying. Lack of quality service. I want to give you a random thought here. Take Chick-Fil-A for an example. Their prices are quite high for what they offer. But for some reason, every time I go there… PACKED. Why? Service. Everyone and their dog knows the classic “my pleasure” from the Chick-Fil-A employees. It’s all about quality of food, of course, but more so of service.  We tend to associate good service with good food, even when the food or product is subpar.

I am getting out of track, but I’ll wrap up this segment by saying this. There is money to be made IF you offer 5 star service. Not 4.5. 5 star landscaping service. Let’s move on. 

Challenges Facing the Landscaping Industry

Labor Shortages

Having all the money in the world and no personality. Bad landscapers near me

Finding good help is hard in this industry. One of the most significant challenges facing the landscaping industry is labor shortages. I personally don’t know if it’s the money involved in hiring a good landscape employee, or whether it’s just bad luck, but there seems to be the work, but not the workers. Some companies try to overcome this deficit by offering more money, or offering pay for performance to incentivize workers, but at the end of the day, I think it goes back to one thing: how good is the owner/ GM. I asked my employees, and they all remarked how they made the same, if not more money working other jobs. But since we treat them like brothers, like close friends, they would rather work for us any day of the week. The work, harder, the pay, worse. The environment, the leadership, the teamwork all combined helps you not only have happy and good workers, but can even help weed out bad ones. Just my thoughts, of course. No peer or pew research done.

Increasing Costs

Here is the big one: why you need to keep increasing your prices. Inflation and other economic factors have led to increasing costs in the landscaping industry. I remember one mower from Toro being around $800 brand new back in 2019. Today? $1600. With the cost of equipment near doubling in recent years, and labor also growing in cost, landscapers have to do something that is not easy… at first. Raising prices. 

A quick way to do that is to merely send out an email to all your clients for mowing services. “Hello x, just wanted to inform you that from now (14 days or so from now), your price of mowing will be going from $45 to $49 weekly. This is to curb rising costs in our industry. Let us know if you have any questions, have a great day”. 

Short and sweet, more or less. Yes, you will lose probobly 20% of your consumers. Maybe less if your prices were awful! But if you don’t increase costs as a small business while your supplies do, you may be not mathing maths real good. 

Once you get more money, 90% of your problems normally vanish. Now, you can pay more for less time worked (YAY), you can invest more money into the business (Double YAY), and you can finally ACTUALLY afford that shiny new truck you’ve been eyeing (YAAAAAAY). It all starts with more money in the business. Remember what i said earlier.. You can raise your prices if the service is great. People WILL come back. Always. Chick-Fil-A, baby.

Please stop looking like bums as soon as possible.

Look, I get it. We all start somewhere. I worked from my moms minivan and just wore random shirts to lawn mowing and landscape jobs.But please, if you want to provide quality service, you have to look the part. People generally trust a well dressed person more than a hobo in random clothing. It’s just the way it is. 

There are plenty of ways to look more professional, but I will break it down.

  1. Do a little bit of research to stand out from local competition. Do they all have trees in their logo? Then have a mower in yours. Are their company colors red or white? Then do green or blue. Have an idea of what you want your company image to be.
  2. Invest in a logo and slap it on some shirts. That fact you are willing to spend money just to look good is great, it makes you already ahead of like 80% of your competition (source, me). Personally, we have yellow work attire, and white polos for office workers. An added layer or professionalism. I will say from my own experience, I have closed higher ticket estimates as a well dressed guy with higher prices than as a poorly dressed guy with lower prices. 
  3. Invest in good customer management software. Starting out, Yardbook is the best in my opinion. Free and simple, but not too powerful, and not as robust as what we use.. As soon as your revenue goes above $150,000 (not a lot in the landscape solo world), you can upgrade to a paid software like Housecall Pro (We use this software over Jobber or Co-Pilot. Just fit our company better. Find what works best for you)
  4. Have a separate phone and phone number for your business. It makes you spend time away from work, time that will make sure you are staying healthy in some other way! Get a cheap old samsung, like a note 10 lite for $100 bucks on eBay. Or dig up an old phone of yours that just works. This is just personal preference, but switching phones in the future is a pain. The sooner you get a phone number for your business, the better. You can get one that is $15 bucks a month like Mint Mobile, or get one with more features that a VoiP like Acefone.

To give you an idea on how much this would cost in 2024:

  1. Research: Free
  2. Fiverr plus local print shop: Prob around $80-200. Depends on shirt number and logo designer.
  3. Yard book is free. I will add, housecall pro has saved me over 10 hours of work per week, at only $1600 a year. May sound like a lot, but 10 hours a week in the busy season of landscape is a whole night of sleep. HUGE
  4. Like, $300 a year.

Your total to start looking professional: less than $500 bucks.

Of course, you can always look like a million bucks, but a $1 attitude will make you worthless.

Public image:

Ok, last but not least, to find the best landscaper near you, or to be the best, you need to have a good public image. Build up your google page (get reviews), make a good website (its like your clothes, but for online. Hobo clothes = zero trust), and be active on social channels. Plenty of resources out there, so I trust you can look around on your own without much help. If not, You probably are not meant for this business.

Conclusion

While the landscaping industry faces several challenges, it’s important to remember that many landscapers are working hard to provide high-quality services despite these difficulties. Sometimes, all we need is a reminder where we came from, looking at our growth. Other times, we need to start from the basics. As consumers, understanding these challenges can help us set realistic expectations and support our local landscapers.

Remember, not all landscapers are the same. If you’re not satisfied with your current landscaper, consider looking for another provider. There are many dedicated professionals out there who are committed to providing excellent service.

References

Just click the links, lol. I am a landscape business owner, not a blog writer.

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